University of Wisconsin - Stout

Meridith Wentz

Meridith Wentz

Dr. Meridith Wentz is an Assistant Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. The University of Wisconsin-Stout was the first, and remains the only, four-year institution of higher education to receive the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Dr. Wentz directs the office of Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality (PARQ), which is responsible for institutional research and assessment, strategic planning, performance measurement, regional accreditation, and policy efforts. The PARQ office is responsible for leading the process for review of educational support units, which includes benchmarking. She is an alumni examiner with the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, having led three national review teams. She is also a peer reviewer for the Higher Learning Commission and led UW-Stout’s efforts as a founding institution for the Aspirational Statements for Institutional Research.

Francis Oakgrove

Francis Oakgrove

Francis Oakgrove is an Institutional Planner within the Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality (PARQ) office at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. He received a Master of Education in the Education Leadership and Policy Studies program at Iowa State University in 2012 and is finishing his dissertation in Education Institutional Analysis at North Dakota State University. In the last six years, Frank has helped develop assessment in areas related to university policies, advising, multicultural programs, and student affairs and services. In his current role, he oversees the review process for all educational support units as part of the greater strategic planning process.

Elena Lopez Carroll

Elena Lopez Carroll

Elena Lopez Carroll is the Associate Institutional Planner for the office of Planning, Assessment, Research and Quality (PARQ), which is responsible for institutional research and assessment, strategic planning, performance measurement, regional accreditation, and policy efforts at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Elena made an industry leap from a successful career in healthcare where she served for six years as the Associate Vice President of Administration for Texas Prosthetic Center and the office manager and marketing assistant for JHD Healthcare Partners. She has made a commitment to her education and is enrolled in the Master’s program for Applied Psychology with an emphasis in Evaluation Research, Industrial Organizational Psychology, and Health Promotions at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She is passionate about people, self-care, being a servant leader, program evaluation, organizational development, and process improvement.

National Higher Education Benchmarking Institute

Steve LaNasa

Steve serves as the Director of the National Higher Education Benchmarking Institute, and comes with more than 25 years of higher education experience, in both two- and four-year institutions.  Formerly the President of Donnelly College, his administrative experience also includes leadership roles in academic, fiscal, and student affairs, as well as human resources and information technology.  As a faculty member, his research and teaching focuses on college access, organizational performance and student success.  

He holds a Ph.D. from Penn State where he served in the Center for the Study of Higher Education.

Michelle Taylor

Michelle D. Taylor

Michelle Taylor is the Senior Research & Data Analyst at the National Higher Education Benchmarking Institute. She conducts the data collection, analytics and reporting functions for a variety of national community college projects including the National Community College Benchmark Project (NCCBP) and the Cost and Productivity Project and the Workforce Training Benchmark Project.

Before joining the institute, she worked as a Senior Marketing Research Manager at H&R Block as well as led marketing research efforts for several other companies including American Express and American Century Investments.

Additionally, she was a Research Analyst at the Center for Economic Development and Business Research at Wichita State University. At CEDBR, she primarily collected, analyzed and disseminated business, economic and demographic information in addition to maintaining several database including state retail sales database and the information database. She also managed the CEDBR’s Annual Economic Outlook Conference.

Michelle received her MBA with an emphasis in International Business and Marketing from The Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from Washburn University.

Dan Ferguson

Daniel J. Ferguson

Daniel Ferguson is the Software Application Developer for the National Higher Education Benchmarking Institute. He creates and maintains the web apps that power the institute's newest projects. Prior to his work at the institute, Dan built web applications in the following industries: retail, banking, transportation logistics, social networking and journalism.

Dan received a bachelor's degree in Linguistics from Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri. His programming skills are self-taught through involvement in open source projects.